As excellent a college recruiter as he was a personnel man and draft wizard in the NFL, Jimmy Johnson's eye for talent may have been his greatest strength as a football coach.
It served him as well in the college ranks as it did during his run with the Cowboys, as he became the first coach to win both an National Championship and a Super Bowl. For the whole of his accomplishments at the amatuer level, Johnson on Tuesday was named to the 2012 College Football Hall of Fame bowl subdivision class.
Johnson went to two back-to-back National Championships, losing to Penn State in the 1987 Orange Bowl and beating Oklahoma for the title in the 1988 Orange Bowl. He compiled an 81-34-3 record as a head coach in the college ranks, spending five seasons at Oklahoma State (1979-83) and five more at Miami (1984-88) before leaving for the Cowboys.
At a press conference announcing the class, Johnson said his best days as a coach were at the college level.
"Going to the Dallas Cowboys was a challenge," Johnson said. "I think that's why a lot of coaches leave college to give professional football a shot - the challenge, their own egos - that's what it was for me. I didn't expect to win as much. I didn't expect to have as much fun. But there was a challenge, something I felt I had to do.
"A lot of coaches have tried making that transition, leaving great, great situations in college. Some have done well, and some have not."
Also a part of the 17-man class is Colorado State defensive back Greg Myers, who spent one season (2000) with the Cowboys.